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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

End of an era for family car dealership

By Barry Schrader.................................October 20, 2005

Milt Codiroli wouldn’t have fit the Henry Ford mold if he had been around in the early days of the Ford Motor Company. It was Henry who said you can have any color car you want as long as it’s black, and he dressed accordingly. Milt, whose family operated the Ford dealership in Livermore for 40 years, is a very colorful person---a natty dresser, sports a Hollywood tan year-round, and qualifies as a community activist and philanthropist.

Milt and wife Pat came to town in 1965 when he bought out Bud Gestri Ford. Bud had operated the dealership since 1952, first at the site where Groth Bros. has their parts department, then 1368 W. First Street. Next Milt moved it to the 3700 block of First Street, then in 1990 to Kitty Hawk, adjacent to I-580.

Reminiscing last week, Milt said Livermore has been good to them over the years. The community was a relatively high income area with the two national labs and there were no layoffs in slow economic periods, he added.

Besides selling autos, Milt stepped up to serve as Chamber of Commerce president, two different times, and supported many school athletic and funding programs when they were in need. His son Mark, who along with sister Denise also ran the dealership in recent years, said his father was very community minded and always chipped in to help when an opportunity arose. Mark himself was a chip off the old block—he served as Chamber president in the 1980s, was president of the Livermore Valley Rotary Club, and chaired the Measure L campaign, the successful bond measure that funded many school needs, plus a new city library and LARPD Community Center just a few years ago.

Milt recalled his ill-fated run for city council, back in 1972 when the Independent newspaper-backed SAVE (Save All Valley Environments) Initiative was on the ballot and the slow-growth slate of candidates were swept into office, while the business-oriented candidates were all defeated. Milt said he decided never to seek public office again because there were many ways he could help out in the community that was less political and more rewarding.

Since they sold their dealership back to Ford this summer Mark has joined a real estate venture selling lots and houses in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez. Milt and Pat continue to enjoy retirement, but the family plans to remain in Livermore and will still be contributors to the community in any way they can.

For the record, the new operators of the Ford dealership are Jay Gill, president of the Livermore Auto Group, and general manager Manuel Prieto. They will have big shoes to fill as they try to maintain the community-oriented reputation of the Codirolis.

***

While mentioning auto dealers with historic ties to Livermore, the Groth Brothers cannot be overlooked. They hold the record for the longest family-run auto business in the valley. Dick Groth tells me that his father Theodore William “Bill” Groth opened the Fireproof Garage in 1934 on Livermore’s main street and they have been in business ever since. Dick’s late brother Bill died in 1987. The two brothers had bought out their father in 1965 and now a third generation of Groths, Robin and Ricky, run the business. They started as an Olds dealer, then added GMC truck and Chevrolet along the way. Watch for an announcement of plans to move their dealership off First Street in the not-too-distant future.

***

The weekly question about the naming of Tao House got plenty of emails, but I will just name the first two to respond. Patty Roudebush of Livermore and Kathy Engel of Pleasanton were right on the money. O’Neills’ interest in Eastern religions and culture as well as Carlotta O’Neill’s passion for oriental art inspired the name Tao House, which is usually translated as “The Way.”

***

I forgot to give credit to the first person to find the name of Lee Basnar’s latest book on the web last week. The winner was Max Eckert whose mother lives near us at Heritage Estates.

***

This week’s history mystery: What kind of cars were the first two bought by Livermoreans in 1903?

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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